Tag Archives: hacking

PTJ 71 News: Halloween Candy

kitkat-androidLate last week, Google announced its new Nexus 5 smartphone running Android 4.4 KitKat, all nicely timed for Halloween. The KitKat update is expected for Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 devices — as well as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One — within the next few weeks, so hang tight, candy lovers. In the meantime, a Quick Start guide to Android 4.4 is available in the Google Play store. (In other Google News, the company has a new venture, called Google Helpouts, that promises real help from real people in real time and in some case, in exchange for real money.)

And while Google has a four-story mystery structure out in the San Francisco bay that’s had observers wound up and speculating for the past few weeks, Apple is being a little more transparent about its future plans, The company has announced a new plant in Mesa, Arizona, intended to make components for its products—maybe future iPads? And Apple’s iPad Air went on sale last Friday, but as of now, the company has not released its typical exuberant first-weekend sales numbers, some analysts estimate between 2.5 and 3.5 million Airs were sold; as for the cellular models, newcomer T-Mobile reportedly did very well. (Heard El Kaiser’s concerns about iOS 7’s Frequent Locations feature on the iPhone? Read more about it here.)

Although it got some flack last week when its original report went public, The Washington Post did another story this week about how it knew the National Security Agency had access to internal Google and Yahoo cloud data, and defended the first story. But wait, there’s more security news: hackers broke into Corporate Car Online, a company that takes reservations for Town cars and limousines. According to the Krebs on Security site, intruders made off with financial and personal information belonging to 850,000 people. Lebron James, Tom Hanks and Donald Trump were among the names reportedly grabbed in the data theft.

Twitter is supposed to go all IPO on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. Things aren’t totally smooth sailing, though as IBM has accused the bird-themed microblogging service of at least three patent infringements.

Call of Duty: Ghosts arrived this week for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U and PCs. The latest installment takes the player to a post-apocalyptic society after the US has been hit with a major attack. The game made a large amount of money on its first day, and gamers can play as female soldiers in this edition.

And finally, the British supermarket chain Tesco is installing high-tech cameras that can scan the faces of customers for advertisers. The ads are planned for the gas pumps and after scanning the face of a customer, will then present targeted advertising based on the sex and age detected. Other retailers have also begun to use scanning technology to roughly identify customers for tailored advertisements and websites are all over the tracking and targeting. But still: today the face, tomorrow the eyes.

PTJ 65 News: Lyin’, Cheatin’ and Stealin’

Don’t be makin’ stuff up— the state of New York is cracking down on fake Internet reviews on sites like Yelp, Yahoo and Citysearch and issued fines of about $350,000 to more than a dozen companies who got caught singing their own praises—or paying others to do it for them, including people in other countries who had never used the services in question. The State of New York has been busy the past week or so, and also introduced “text stops” along the highway for people who need to pull over and send a message.

In other legal news, LinkedIn is getting sued by several of its customers, who claim the professional networking site hacked into their personal external e-mail accounts and downloaded the address books for marketing purposes. A post on a company blog by LinkedIn’s senior director of litigation states that the accusations are false. Stay tuned.

On a happier note, Google is revamping the way YouTube uploaders manage the comments on their sites, which may help knock the trolls farther down and out of sight. (While we’re waiting for the new system to roll out, don’t forget the Pop Tech Jam guide to blocking online comments.)

As expected, Microsoft announced the next generation of its Surface tablets. The Surface Pro 2 runs on an Intel Core i5 Haswell processor. The less-powerful Surface 2 tablet was also announced this week. While Microsoft soldiers on trying to carve out more market share for its tablets and smartphones, BlackBerry reported major losses and layoffs, and also announced it was selling itself for $5 billion to Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, a Canadian finance firm.

Apple’s new iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s went on sale last Friday and sold more phones over the weekend than BlackBerry did for the entire last quarter. So while the battle of the fruit-themed smartphone companies has been decided, but Apple’s products are taking bites out of other firms as well. After the arrival of iTunes Radio last week, the Web radio service Pandora saw its stock from 10 percent. Apple also pushed out iOS 7 last week, and the bug hunters have been having a ball.

In other Apple news, the childhood home of the late company co-founder Steve Jobs could be made a protected site by the Los Altos Historical Commission in California.

If you thought your Gmail was slow earlier this week, that wasn’t your friends and colleagues ignoring you — that was Google having problems delivering messages and attachments to its 425 million users. The situation was resolved about 12 hours later, with a dual network failure taking the blame.

Worried about someone swiping your Android device and getting into your stuff? You can now lock a lost device remotely with the latest version of the Android Device Manager. To use it, just log into the Android Device Manager Web page with your Google or Gmail user name and password and follow along.

In gaming news, Valve is busting out its own Linux-based SteamOS designed for gaming on TV screens. The SteamOS home page has more information, and the company is also working on Steam Machines (not to be confused with those things you rent a couple times a year to get all the mashed Cheetos and Gatorade stains out of the carpet).

lasereyesDo you hate it when you take pictures of your cat and it has those weird glowing eyes? Adobe has  added a new feature to its brand new Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 software. Yes, now you can use the “Pet Eye” tool to correct those weird green and yellow distortions in the eyes of your cats and dogs, just like you can use the Red Eye tool to get the demon gaze out of human eyes.
Most of the time.

Episode 59: Welcome to SNARK WEEK!

This week J.D. shares tips on how to use the web to get the perfect digital camera then she and Pedro discuss the recent announcement that veteran British actor Peter Capaldi will take a turn as the time travelling Time Lord, Doctor Who. In the news Comcast is working on a new system urging users to download copyrighted material legally; CBS and Time Warner Cable continue their Battle of the Gargantuans; Samsung maybe inching closer to unveiling a smartwatch; the FBI may be targeting Firefox users on the TOR network; and not even your toilet is immune from the hacking scourge.

Episode 59 News: Cable Vision

Would you like fries with that illegal download — or at least, a Buy button? According to a report in Variety, Comcast is said to be working on a new system where ISPs that sense users downloading copyrighted material from sharing sites and then sends out a pop-up message to the user with links to legally purchase the same content. Meanwhile, the squabble between Time Warner cable and CBS continues and viewers are not amused.

In the Department of New Stuff, the National Football League has released its new mobile app for Android, BlackBerry and iOS. LinkedIn has also updated its mobile app to allow job-hunters to apply for listed positions right within the app. The Smartwatch Watch continues. PC World and other sources have reported that Samsung has filed a US trademark on the name “Samsung Galaxy Gear.”

No one one’s surprise, Google announced the new Moto X smartphone last week. In a move that surprised pretty much everyone in media, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, bought the Washington Post newspaper this week for $250 million dollars, or the change in the cushions of his couch.

New malware found in sites hosted by Freedom Hosting is targeting Firefox users on the Tor network. Because the malware sends the user’s information to someplace in Reston, Virginia, some security researchers are thinking the FBI may be involved in the hack.

Last week, we worried about cars getting hacked. This week, high-tech toilets could fall victim to foul play. Trustwave, a security company, recently put out a warning about the Android app used with luxury Satis smart toilets made by Lixil. Because the Bluetooth PIN for the app is hardcoded to 0000, a hacker could grab a copy of the app, pair up a device with your toilet and then assume control of the bidet function or abuse the high-tech commode’s Direct Vortex Flush. (With ABC television executives talking to folks in Disney’s new Lucasfilm division about possibly producing a live-action Star Wars TV show, maybe they could use some new characters — like Direct Vortex Flush, Sith apprentice.)

Need a tablet computer? Microsoft has dropped the price on its pricier Surface Pro tablet computers. Apple’s iPad saw a sales decline of its own during this past quarter. According to IDC, the iPad went from having 60.3 percent of the tablet market last year at this time to 32.4 percent here in 2013. The new hardware rumors are starting to heat up for fall, though, with “a Retina display iPad Mini with different color options that arrives next month” as one of this week’s whispers.

In other quick Apple bites, the company is offering to replace third-party chargers. Apple is also set to restore the rest of the services on its developer site this week, as it finishes overhauling the system in wake of last month’s security issues (and just in time to push out a fifth beta for its iOS 7 software due out this fall). Oh, and Electronic Arts has announced that Mac gamers can play Sim City starting August 29th. Mark your calendars.

tapeAnd finally, we have two notable milestones to acknowledge this month. August 5th marked the the first anniversary of the Curiosity rover landing on Mars — NASA has a video. August also marks the 50th anniversary of the humble cassette, which made its official debut at a radio show in Berlin in 1963. Still have a recorder and a few old blank tapes out in the garage? Here are some song ideas for a Mars-worthy mix.

Episode 58 News: Drive My Car

We’re deep into summer and you know what time that is — it’s time for DEFCON, the annual gathering of hacking enthusiasts in Las Vegas. There have been some announcements ahead of the event, including two researchers who were able to stop, start and steer a car with an old Nintendo handset and also control it with a laptop. (Forbes has some video.)

It wouldn’t be the Internet without malicious trolls, and heinous behavior over in the UK and an online petition recently has led Twitter to promise a new button on every tweet for reporting abuse on a company blog. Critics of the plan have chimed in to basically say it’s time to stop blaming technology and social media for society’s problems like rampant misogyny and racism, and maybe we ought to do something about those. Others worry that the abuse button itself may get abused.

bundroidGoogle popped out a couple of shiny new pieces of hardware last week, including the upgraded Nexus 7 tablet and a tiny, pocket-drive-sized media streamer called the Chromecast. The latter has some bugs to work out and a limited number of services it streams, but it is getting decent early reviews. However, Vimeo and RedBox Instant are also on the way. Google also found time to make big improvements to the old Zagat site, which it owns.

Apple released its iTunes 11.1 beta software to its registered developers this week along with the fourth version of its iOS 7 beta. As for hardware, the rumor mill is still grinding away with talk of a possible lower-priced iPhone arriving with the annual high-end upgrade. The new top-of-the-line model may also include a biometric fingerprint sensor, according to programmers looking deep into the iOS 7 betaware. Apple has a few legal issues to deal with this week as well. A Chinese labor rights group has a report out with new allegations against one the contractors used to make iPhones and other devices; Apple told the Wall Street Journal it was working with the group and investigating. Closer to home, some former Apple Store employees have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Mother Ship claiming retail workers routinely had to wait around for up to half an hour without pay while managers searched their bags.

In Star Wars news, composer John Williams will be returning to score the seventh film in the series, having done the music for the previous six installments. Over Doctor Who way, the 50th anniversary episode — the one which current companion Jenna Coleman says changes everything — will air November 23rd, with plans for the show to be simulcast in 200 countries around the world. (The show is broadcast at 7:00 p.m. in the United Kingdom, so make the calculations for your time zone here.)

And finally, Radio Times is reporting that Netflix will temporarily remove Star Trek III: The Search for Spock from its streaming inventory while it adds authentic subtitles for the film’s dialogue that’s spoken in the Klingon and Vulcan languages instead of having missing subtitles or the lines dubbed in English. This has been a complaint from fans of the film for quite awhile, although some may not need subtitles anyway. yIn nI’ yISIQ ‘ej yIchep!

Episode 36: Talking Apps and Malware Traps

If you’re too busy to get news headlines, weather updates or the latest social media posts from your friends, not to worry! J.D. introduces to some apps that will read them all for you. Sony announced its long awaited PS4 gaming-console this week and one feature captures El Kaisers attention: Ultra HD support. Pedro fills us in on the new video format in his Tech Term of the Week. In the news, Nasa’s Mars Rover drills into Martian soil for the first time; meteors rain down on Russia; Ubuntu gets into the tablet and smartphone business; Facebook contemplates autoplay video ads; and Apple gets hit by a virus attack.

Episode 16 News: The World Is Flat

Well, the first flurry of Apple fall product announcements finally hit this week with the revelation of the iPhone 5, a revamp of a few iPods and a sneak peak at the next version of iTunes. The iOS 6 software and the phones will be out next week, but everything else isn’t available until October. Google, wasting no time after Apple removed the built-in YouTube app from the iOS Home screen, released its own free standalone iPhone YouTube app.

Amazon certainly wasn’t waiting around for Apple to hog all the limelight either, announcing big updates to its Kindle line of tablets and e-readers last week. (While all the new Kindle Fire HD tablets were going to include spam — whoops — Special Offers on the Home screen, Amazon says users can now opt out of that for $15.) A slight upgrade to Amazon’s original Kindle Fire tablet is now selling for $160. This is just $10 more than the new tablet-for-kids announced by Toys R Us this week.

Also on the Apple front, as a follow up to last week’s story about 12 million Apple device ID numbers that were not hacked off an FBI computer — it turns out the compromised machine belonged to the Florida-based app developer BlueToad, which assured and apologized to its customers in a company blog post. (GoDaddy, the domain-name and site-hosting service was thought to have suffered a hack attack itself earlier this week that took many of its sites offline for hours, but the company said it was an internal glitch that keelhauled all those Web sites.) When it is not defending itself from false hacking claims, the FBI has found time for a billion dollar upgrade to its biometric identification technology systems, although some privacy advocates are feeling a whiff of the Orwell on this one. The FBI has some info about its Next Generation Identification technology here.

Now then, contrary to popular reports, other hardware besides smartphones and tablets is headed to stores this fall. Pentax announced new mirrorless and DSLR cameras. And thin is in at Western Digital — the company has just launched a super-skinny 5 millimeter thick hard drive for ultrabook laptops.

Hey, remember the Bookmobile rolling library coming to your neighborhood? It’s the 21st century and now there’s a Digital Bookmobile sponsored by OverDrive making the rounds;  check the calendar here.

Housed in an 18-wheel tractor trailer, the Digital Bookmobile travels around the country and shows people how to use e-book lending services from their local libraries with instructional videos, interactive workstations and a gadget gallery with all the popular e-reader models. There’s also a section for audiobooks inside the truck. Remember kids, reading is fundamental, no matter how you do it.

 

Episode 11 News: Let’s Be Careful Out There

If Web browsers could compete in their own Olympics this summer, Google Chrome would take the gold. For July 2012, the traffic-measurement company StatCounter, puts Chrome’s global market share at 33.8 percent. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer takes the silver with a 32 percent share and Firefox lands the bronze with 23.7 percent. Not making it to the podium: Apple’s Safari with a 7.1 percent worldwide market share and Opera, with about a 1.72 percent share of the global browser market.

Luckily for Apple, Safari is not its only piece of software and the company has been keeping busy prepping its coming iOS 6 system for iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches. Google’s map cartography has already been tossed overboard for the new system, and now YouTube is getting dropped from the default apps on the Home screen. One hopes that Apple is also investigating a battery issue with its new OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion system, as a number of online complaints have popped up from folks reporting that their laptop battery charges haven’t been lasting as long since they Cougarized their Macs.

Microsoft has been keeping itself occupied as well, revamping its Windows Phone developer portal into Windows Phone Dev Center and overhauling Hotmail into its new Outlook.com Web mail site. (At least one review rather likes the new Outlook.com interface, but remember, we can’t call it “Metro” anymore.)

On the mobile front, AT&T is launching its Mobile Share wireless plans for people with a lot of devices and who don’t want to ride herd on multiple data plans; AT&T explains the new stuff here. (The company says you can also keep your current plan and won’t shove you onto one of the new ones.)

Like satellite radio but never have time to listen to it when you want to? SiriusXM Radio has just announced its new service, SiriusXM Radio On Demand, which lets subscribers using its iOS app (or online media player) pick out and listen to their favorite episodes from 200 different shows to listen to whenever they want. And Android version is in the works.

In legal news, U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has introduced a federal law that, if passed, would put warning labels on cell phones and create a national research program to study cell phone radiation levels. The bill, formally known as H.R. 6358, is casually referred to as “The Cell Phone Right to Know Act.”

Finally, it you missed the writer Mat Honan’s sad tale of cloud power gone wrong, give it a read. It involves security flaws at Apple and Amazon, hijacked accounts, lost data and a lesson for all of us who keep part of our lives online. As a result of Mr. Honan’s misfortune, Apple and Amazon have made some changes to their policies and, there’s been a renewed interest in Google’s two-step account authentication process and helpful articles offering tips for better personal security.